White Culture - a subsidiary role in worship at NCF

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JW1987.jpg

"We white members believe that as part of our agenda for reconciliation for the overwhelming oppression of two hundred years and in order that our black members might feel completely trusting, white culture should take a subsidiary role in our worship." - James Ward, Reformed Worship Magazine March 1987.

This statement reflects how I was mentored in the process of reconciliation in worship music. It is a huge part of what has defined the sound of New City Fellowship worship services. It's one of the reasons that NCF churches can feel so incredibly different from their sister churches in the denomination.

There's a few phrases that I particularly like. One is "We white members believe" which reflects a choice to show love, a willing desire to set aside one's preferences in order to reconcile. I also like "in order that our black members might feel completely trusting." Notice that he didn't say "comfortable" or "relevant" or something like that. We are not about making people comfortable; that's not going to happen in a multicultural context. Our desire is that the church become a place where prejudice, fear, and bitterness can be replaced with trust. Good word.

So, what do you think?
Is this Ronald Regan-era statement something that should still define our reconciliation agenda in the age of Barak Obama?
How does this process expand to include the cultures of immigrants and refugees?

2 Comments

Kirk,

Thanks so much for the thoughts and the article. I'm still processing this since I grew up in a white rural environment, I'm currently in the white, suburban environment and my family is trans-racial. And, as you mention, we are in the new era of Barak Obama. All that to say, I don't know much and I'm very much in process.

I found some other thoughts from your Dad's article thought-provoking too...
1. I realize this was written in '87, but it's telling that after your dad said that NCF didn't sing out of the Scottish Psalter the question was asked, "How can your church still be recognized as a Presbyterian church?" as if the only distinctive was the version of hymnal in the pews.

2. Jim also mentions embracing African-American music as a way to serve that community in the face of our country's past of slavery and segregation. I think the main point here is that we are to sacrificially serve each other as Christ did in all areas including our music choices. However as you point out, the way this plays out in a specific congregation might change based on the cultural make-up of the congregation. What if you have an immigrant culture...or a suburban one? The starting answer is in the article:
"Q. So the music and the instrument ought to match the particular congregation.

A. Yes"
...how does this play out?...that's the question.

3. Through my adoption experience, I'm realizing how much we as Christians define ourselves based on physical characteristics. It also seems to me that Paul encourages the church to attempt to avoid those types of classifications such as Jew or Greek, slave or free. So while we are to serve each other sacrificially, are we continuing to define ourselves simply based on biology instead of the spirit who makes us one family?

As I mentioned, I'm working through this...but I'm encouraged by the close of the article,
"Let's not abandon creativity and cross-cultural efforts because of some failures. Let's promote them because they help to bring today's people into a personal relationship with today's Lord"

Thanks again.

Big help, big help. And spuerliavte news of course.

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This page contains a single entry by Kirk published on September 25, 2009 10:31 AM.

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